Fibrocystic breast disease or mastalgia, commonly called ‘fibrocystic’ breasts is a benign (noncancerous) condition in which a woman has painful lumps in her breasts. According to studies, the estimated incidence rate of fibrocystic changes, ranges from about 50-60% of all women.1
This condition is common among women between 30 and 50 years of age.
What Causes Fibrocystic Breast Disease?
The breast is controlled and influenced by a complex interaction of various hormones such as estrogen and progesterone from the ovaries, as well as hormones like thyroxin from the thyroid, growth hormone – prolactin and insulin. If you have fibrocystic breast disease, your breasts have more pronounced changes in response to these hormones. Fibrocystic breast disease is a sign of too much estrogenic effect and toxin buildup in the breasts.
Using A Restrictive Bra
Commonly used restrictive support bras prevent lymphatic drainage leading to accumulation of toxic waste materials in the breast. Dressed to Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras, a book written by Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer,2 two medical anthropologists,
goes as far as to make recommendations as follows:
- Stop wearing bras.
- If you choose to wear a bra, purchase it at the point in your cycle where your
- breasts are at their largest size.
- When you take your bra off it should not leave red marks on the skin—if so, it is
- too tight and you should buy a larger size.
- Do not wear your bra to bed.
- Wear the bra only as long as you have to, i.e., take the bra off immediately when you get home from work rather than waiting until bedtime.
- Avoid push up, underwire and strapless bras. The pressure from these bras is placed solely on the side panels where many of the lymph nodes are.
Symptoms Of Fibrocystic Breasts
- Numbing pain, tenderness or discomfort in one or both breasts
- Lumps that merge into surrounding breast tissue
- Fluctuating size of breast lumps
- Non bloody discharge from the nipples without any external stimulus
- Numbing pain under the arms that stays for duration of period or throughout.
Fortunately, mild premenstrual breast discomfort lasting for 1 to 4 days can be considered “normal” and need not necessarily be a factor for Fibrocystic breast disease.
Natural Remedies for Fibrocystic Breasts
Here is a list of home remedies for fibrocystic breasts.
Several studies have looked at the beneficial effects of evening primrose oil on fibrocystic breast disease. Evening primrose seeds contain a unique mixture of essential fatty acids, especially gamma-linolenic acid, a compound that is used in reducing autoimmune inflammations. Applying a little of this essential oil over the lumps can be helpful in reducing the tenderness caused due to the problem.3
Flax seeds are found to be useful in treating fibrocystic breast disease very effectively. Moderate amounts of flaxseed oil in the diet can keep estrogen levels low and over time reduce the effects of fibrocystic breasts.4
Herbal therapies can be useful in decreasing breast swelling and the discomfort associated with it. Some of these herbs are: dandelion leaf (Taraxacum officinale, cleavers (Galium aparine), yarrow (Achillea millefolium) and uva ursi (Arctostaphylos uva ursi).
Studies document decreases in breast tenderness and size of breast cysts in 85-90% of women taking vitamin E.5
Natural Approches To Fibrocystic Breasts
Limit Or Avoid Caffeine
Caffeine reduction or elimination is recommended by many specialists to alleviate breast pain, and many women reported that it alleviates their breast pain. In an uncontrolled study, 61% of women with breast pain who substantially decreased caffeine intake for 1 year had decreased pain or complete relief .6
Decrease Fat In Your Diet
Lower dietary fat intake has been associated with less severe mastalgia symptoms. By reducing dietary fat, other parameters that may be related to mastalgia are altered, including mammographic breast density. In order to derive benefit from this approach, it has been suggested that women must decrease fat intake to less than 20% of total daily caloric intake.7
Patients with mastalgia should stop, or at least reduce the number of cigarettes taken daily, based on a study that identified smoking as being a factor associated with mastalgia.8
|↑1||McGarry, Kelly A., and Iris L. Tong, eds. The 5-minute Consult Clinical Companion to Women’s Health. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2012.|
|↑2||Singer, Sydney, and Soma Grismaijer. Dressed to Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras. ISCD Press, 2006.|
|↑3||Mansel, R. E., et al. “A randomized trial of dietary intervention with essential fatty acids in patients with categorized cysts.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 586.1 (1990): 288-294.|
|↑4||Rosolowich, Vera, et al. “Mastalgia.” Journal of obstetrics and gynaecology Canada: JOGC 28.1 (2006): 49-71.|
|↑5||Kimmick, Gretchen Genevieve, Ronny Antonio Bell, and Roberd Maner Bostick. “Vitamin E and breast cancer: a review.” Nutrition and cancer 27.2 (1997): 109-117.|
|↑6, ↑7||Murshid, Khalid Rida. “A Review of Mastalgia in Patients with Fibrocystic Breast Changes and the Non-Surgical Treatment Options.” Journal of Taibah University Medical Sciences 6.1 (2011): 1-18.|
|↑8||Ader, D. N., et al. “Cyclical mastalgia: prevalence and associated health and behavioral factors.” Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology 22.2 (2001): 71-76.|